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Morning Briefing

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Continuing the fight against nukes

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It was apparent, just after the fall of Communism, that the "industrial" portion of the military industrial complex wasn't going to give up on the conflict that easily. War planners might change plans, politicians might alter their rhetoric, the world itself might breathe a bit easier as the nuclear clock eased back away from midnight. But the weapons' producers were another matter.

So it is good to see the church again, this time in Britain, stepping up to make the case against new generations of nuclear weapons. The group in Britain was advancing -- in dramatic fashion at the site of a nuclear weapons manufacturer -- the same point as that made last July by Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, former head of the Archdiocese for Military Services and now archbishop of Baltimore, to an audience of military and diplomatic officials.

Three Articles To Make You Think

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Three articles today speak about American politics at a deeper level than the day-to-day partisan bickering and that warrant a careful reading.

The first two both focus on populism. George Will writes about the electoral limits of populism, noting that the last successful presidential campaign run on purely populist grounds was that of Andrew Jackson. Further, Will recognizes that populism can serve as a check on the ambitions of more mainstream politicians, but it can almost never convert itself to a governing philosophy.

Leon Wieseltier points out that the populism of former Governor Sarah Palin is fake at its core, that it is merely a new entry in the anti-elitism of some elites against that of others. After all, someone who has a best selling book, was elected to the governorship of her state, and mounted a campaign for national office is not exactly a political outsider no matter how often she repeats the word “rogue.”

Seminars to introduce revised missal

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Press release from the U.S. bishops' conference:

Series of Seminars Slated to Introduce Revised Roman Missal

WASHINGTON -- A series of workshops slated from April 15-16 to November 4-5 will be offered around the nation to prepare priests and diocesan leaders for implementation of the revised Roman Missal.

The seminars are sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Divine Worship and the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions as part of educational efforts for introducing the latest version of the Roman Missal, which incorporates the most significant changes in the Liturgy since 1974. Other associates in planning include the National Organization for Continuing Education of Roman Catholic Clergy (NOCERCC) and the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM).

Seminar attendees will study the historical and theological context of the new Missal and will look at some of the new translations to deepen understanding of their depth and richness.

British bishop protests nuke weapons

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The Roman Catholic Bishop of Brentwood, England, Thomas McMahon, led about 800 peaceful demonstrators in prayer Monday (Feb. 15) as they issued a "call to repentance" over the manufacture of nuclear weapons. It was an interfaith event protesting at the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire, England. They declared that nuclear weapons are "a great idolatry" and "an affront to the power of God."

Read more: Trident is an affront to God, say Aldermaston campaigners

Feb. 18, Fra Angelico, Patron of Artists

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"Fra Giovanni was a simple and most holy man in his habits, and it is a sign of his goodness that one morning, when Pope Nicholas V. wished him to dine with him, he excused himself from eating flesh without the permission of his prior, not thinking of the papal authority."

"He never retouched or repaired any of his pictures, always leaving them in the condition in which they were first seen, believing, so he said, that this was the will of God. Some say that Fra Giovanni never took up his brush without first making a prayer. He never made a crucifix when the tears did not course down his cheeks, while the goodness of his sincere and great soul in religion may be seen in the faces and attitudes of his figures."

--from http://www.amazon.com/Lives-Artists-Oxford-Worlds-Classics/dp/019283410X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266458530&sr=1-2#noop> The Lives of the Artists, by Giorgio Vasari, the man who coined the term "Renaissance".

Apparently, on one thing we agree

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Left and right united in opposition to controversial SCOTUS decision

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that the vast majority of Americans are vehemently opposed to a recent Supreme Court ruling that opens the door for corporations, labor unions, and other organizations to spend money directly from their general funds to influence campaigns.

As noted by the Post's Dan Eggen, the poll's findings show "remarkably strong agreement" across the board, with roughly 80% of Americans saying that they're against the Court's 5-4 decision. Even more remarkable may be that opposition by Republicans, Democrats, and Independents were all near the same 80% opposition range. Specifically, 85% of Democrats, 81% of Independents, and 76% of Republicans opposed it.

In short, "everyone hates" the ruling.

Lent: The Absent \"Alleluia\"

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Augustine is a treasure trove of insights, into the nature of our faith as well as into human nature. But, one of his most significant contributions to Catholic theology was his insight that evil is an absence. This was how he resolved the age old question of how an all-powerful and benevolent God could permit evil. But, Augustine’s insight also tells us something about Lent. This is why we deprive ourselves of things.

For me, the greatest deprivation of Lent is the absence of the “Alleluia” at Mass. That one word is, in its way, the central proclamation of our faith. It encapsulates the central proposition of Easter, bearing witness to the empty tomb, without which our faith is truly in vain. Its absence from our culture would leave us without so many great hymns, without Mozart’s great “Exsultate,” without Tavener’s “In Paradisum.” Its absence from the liturgy leaves a gaping hole.

Carbon fasting during Lent

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The Archdiocese of Washington's Environmental Outreach Committee produced a calendar listing 40 carbon fasting actions everyone can consider as a part of Lenten preparations.

Each of these actions challenges us to reflect on our consumption habits, reduce our production of climate change pollution and help to preserve God's great gift of Creation. As Pope Benedict reminded us in his World Day of Peace Message: "Our present crises … require us to rethink the path which we are travelling together. Specifically, they call for a lifestyle marked by sobriety and solidarity…"

What better time than Lent to begin practicing such a lifestyle. Download the Carbon Fast Calendar for your parish, school, or individual use.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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